One might not think of traveling to Salem, Oregon for an interesting vacation, however, those that don’t are missing out on the hidden gem of the northwest. Salem is in the ideal location of Oregon- just south of the bustling cosmopolitan city of Portland, just east of the stunning, secluded Oregon Coast, and just close enough to prime skiing spots such as Mount Hood and Mount Bachelor. Salem is full of history and nature with its preserved parks and wetlands and the important duties of a capitol city. The first thing to see when visiting Salem is Minto Brown Park. Covering hundreds of acres with its beautiful wildlife and extensive hiking trails, Minto Brown is a serene place to explore and get a sense of the Northwest.
Beyond the raw nature of Salem’s parks tourists should not miss the more historic attractions such as Deepwood Estate. This 1894 Queen Anne Victorian Home was placed on the National Register of Historic Homes in 1973 and enchants thousands of visitors each year with its dazzling gardens and manicured lawns. Another historic destination is the Fairmont neighborhood. This collection of elegant homes has a long standing tradition of being well restored and well-kept by their proud owners. Among these beauties lies the governor’s mansion and many other grand homes as well as some that are quite petite and even lovelier. Your next stop should be Salem’s charming downtown area where you will find an abundance of antique shops, adorable cafes, and chic boutiques. By now, it’s about time for lunch and time to stop at my favorite little downtown restaurant, The Wild Pear. With its scrumptious entrees and decadent desserts the Wild Pear is the perfect representation of Salem’s quirky style.
After lunch you can walk a few blocks to the Capitol Building where you can tour this important piece of the town. Spending an afternoon of leisurely shopping and exploring downtown is the perfect way to finish this busy day, but it’s not over yet. Driving south on River Road will bring you to the ultimate haven of food and relaxation: Robert’s Crossing. Its rustic interior and friendly staff will have you blissfully enjoying delectable dishes without a care in the world. Another excellent attraction is known as the Ike Box which attracts a large crowd with its unique coffee and many other drinks and pastries. In addition, the Ike Box is the ultimate nighttime hotspot seeing as it attracts quite a bit of local talent. If you’re lucky, you may even get to see Southern Aires, a fabulous jazz choir from South Salem High School, or a local band such as the Rain People.
Although Salem does not host any celebrities, anyone you meet in this town is a delight. Salemites are warm, friendly, and helpful which is, in my opinion a wonderful reason to visit any destination. The reason Salem does not get as many tourists as other larger cities is not because it’s not a great place to be; it’s because when tourists visit Salem they fall in love with its people, culture and history and they never leave.
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